Arab lawmakers boycott Netanyahu’s speech at Israeli Knesset

Published November 1st, 2016 - 02:00 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) sits next to Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz during the opening of the winter session at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on October 31, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) sits next to Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz during the opening of the winter session at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on October 31, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The Arab members of the Israeli parliament have snubbed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by staging a walkout before his latest speech at the parliament.

Lawmakers from the Joint Arab List walked out of the parliament floor as Netanyahu sought to make his speech to mark the start of the parliament’s winter session on Monday.

The lawmakers rose from their seats and left as he walked toward the dais during the opening session.

The Joint Arab List parliament members said the walkout was a protest to a planned boycott of them by members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition. The ruling coalition members reportedly plan to snub the Arab lawmakers’ speeches during the first week of the parliament’s winter session.

The ruling coalition is angry at the Arab lawmakers over their decision to boycott the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres on September 30.

The Arab lawmakers say the coalition’s planned move is “anti-democratic, racist and dangerous.”

Israeli Arab member Ahmad Tibi, who is a member of the Joint Arab List, has slammed the ruling coalition’s planned move as “unprecedented.”

“Advocating for a boycott of an entire faction representing an entire segment of the population is unprecedented,” he said on social media.

Joint Arab List chairman Ayman Odeh also told reporters that he was not surprised by the planned move, which he said was part of the “fascist and racist policies” of the Israeli regime.

“Even if you leave the plenary, even if you shut your eyes really tightly, we will still be here,” he said, calling out the ruling coalition’s members.

The protest in the parliament highlights the division between Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing coalition and the Arab and other lawmakers that make up the opposition.


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